I love writing these articles because it gives me the opportunity to stay up on the latest research.
Well, I recently stumbled upon something particularly intriguing…
And those of you with teenage grandchildren will especially want to stay tuned.
Because according to new research, an all too common, troubling diagnosis in our teenage population can be SQUASHED with…
Improved behavior, attention, and more
A new study found that walnuts improve cognitive development and psychological maturation in teens.
Researchers analyzed 771 healthy adolescents, aged 11 to 16 years, who were instructed to either eat walnuts… or not… for 100 days. (They ate 30 grams, about 14 halves, of raw walnuts daily.)
At baseline and six months after the study concluded, participants completed tests to assess attention, working memory, fluid intelligence, risky decision making, and overall behavior.
They also completed a Strengths and Difficulties questionnaire—and their teachers filled out a form to provide additional data about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) behaviors, a common diagnosis.
Ultimately, compared to the control group, those who consumed walnuts for at least 100 days shows improved attention and fluid intelligence (ability to generate, use, and understand information in real time).
They also reduced symptoms of ADHD!
Healthy fats foster brain health
This finding shouldn’t come as a surprise, as many other studies have explored the relationship between polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and brain health.
In fact, previous research suggests PUFAs are crucial to the central nervous system (especially during times of neural development). They may even positively impact brain function and plasticity.
(And keep in mind that adolescence is a time of refinement of brain connectivity and complex behaviors!)
Well, walnuts are a great plant-based source of PUFAs, including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the two essential fats found in fish, as well as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Not to mention, since our brains are mostly fat, it’s important to encourage younger generations to eat good fats to foster brain health. After all, healthy fats can change lives!
Of course, one important thing I’d like to point out is that this study was done on Spanish adolescents who generally eat better than their American counterparts. They were already following a Mediterranean diet and were also asked to eat at least one piece of seasonal fruit daily.
The bottom line? Walnuts are delicious and easy to add to a daily diet at ANY age. And you certainly can’t ignore the potential brain-boosting benefits by doing so!
Looking for unique ways to boost your intake of PUFAs, including walnuts? I have various mouth-watering recipes in my book The A-List Diet. Order yourself a copy here!
(And while you’re at it, check out my book—Feed Your Kids Well!)
“Walnuts Linked to Improved Attention, Psychological Maturity in Teens.” Medscape, 04/24/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/991102)